Many of us spend hours in back-to-back virtual meetings these days. While these video engagements are convenient and relatively simple to set up, they also bring a number of challenges for presenters – including for those delivering scientific content and engaging with healthcare professionals (HCPs).
In fact, in various industry surveys, medical science liaisons (MSLs) and other field medical professionals consistently mention virtual skills development and best practices, along with supporting technology, as areas where they would like additional assistance as a result of the current COVID restrictions.
In order to become an on-line stand-out and master that virtual scientific meeting, here are ten expert tips that will help keep your audience engaged and make your next scientific exchange as effective as possible.
- Light It Up!
Get out of the shadows and invest in an LED desktop lamp and/or a Ring lamp. Movies and TV shows have extensive lighting setups to make the actors look their best and you can do the same on a smaller scale. Even these small desktop lamps can fill-in light, increase brightness, and prevent shadows.
Pro Tip: Never have a bright window directly behind you.
- What’s Your Background?
Have a dedicated, de-cluttered workspace. Avoid rooms that are dark, have high ceilings (this leads to echoes), or are in high traffic parts of your house. Or, create a virtual background. Many video conferencing programs allow you to create custom backgrounds with company logos, for example. Another background idea is to have one that has a story behind it. This will create a talking point with meeting attendees and provide a personal touch. When all else fails, something serene always works well.
- Get Camera Ready
A good camera can make all the difference. They are much better than the built-in computer cameras in terms of light sensitivity, color, and resolution.
Making sure the camera is positioned properly is also key. The camera should always be pointed to your hairline and tilted down to your eyes. Always look into the camera when speaking. This shows confidence and authority. And turn your camera on when given the option in order to encourage face-to-face interaction.
Pro Tip: Frame your camera so the shot is of your face and your shoulders.
- Can You Hear Me Now?
Now that you have your lighting and camera set up, it’s time to talk sound. Pump up the volume with a microphone. Investing in a microphone can make a big difference. Sound quality is greatly enhanced by a good microphone. A simple USB cord plug-in microphone system can raise your audio game to the next level.
- Content is King
For your next virtual scientific meetings, it’s important to remember that content is paramount. You want the audience’s attention to remain on the information you are presenting. You also want to be confident that you are only sharing the material you want attendees to see. New scientific exchange technologies, like Alucio’s Beacon platform, provide clear guardrails to ensure that any content displayed is shown in a controlled, compliant way. Presenters can then quickly and easily access supplemental documents to respond to attendee questions in real-time.
- Speak Up!
In the virtual world, it’s important to speak slightly louder than your normal level. This prevents you from mumbling or losing energy. Also – try to change up your tone, inflection, and pace. Sometimes it’s hard to follow a speaker for long periods of time. The audience will have an easier time differentiating between subjects and ideas if there is a shift in speech pattern.
- Take a Time Out
When you’ve made a point – pause. Give the audience a chance to absorb what you’ve said. Listeners often need extra time they wouldn’t otherwise need in a face-to-face encounter. A pause can also emphasize a point in a conversation. People can’t always make out facial or body expressions as well virtually, so a pause will help to clarify the message. And finally, pausing for a question and answer period is also a good idea.
- Are You Listening?
It’s harder to show you are actively listening when virtual vs. in person so here are some ways to show you are engaged. Nod while others are presenting their ideas. Rest your chin lightly on your fingers while listening. And tilting your head slightly while listening expresses non-verbal interest.
- Be Ready for the Long or Short of It
It’s good practice to have both a short and full-length presentation ready for a virtual engagement. You never know how much time your KOL might have – sometimes it’s 60 minutes, sometimes it may just be 10. So, have abridged and unabridged versions of your presentation ready so you can adapt smoothly on the fly.
- Note What’s Noteworthy
Here’s a tip for those of us who are note-takers during presentations. Many virtual meeting programs like Zoom let you make annotations and take notes right on your phone or your desktop with a whiteboarding feature. It’s like having a whiteboard in your office where participants can brainstorm together and share ideas.
These ten tips should help you tackle the ins and outs of your next virtual scientific meeting like a pro. These video engagements are here to stay so why not embrace them?
Lisa Amin is an award-winning journalist, communications expert, and business leader with decades of experience delivering memorable stories, shaping public opinion, and building strong brands.
Currently, Lisa is Communications Manager at Alucio where she leads the company’s public relations activities, various internal and external communication efforts, and social media campaigns.
Prior to joining Alucio, Lisa was a TV News reporter for more than twenty years at various stations across the US. This includes being a field reporter on the highly-rated 11 pm show for ABC News in San Francisco for 12 years.
Lisa has won many journalism awards including an Emmy, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and two South Asian Journalism Awards. She is trilingual in Spanish and Gujarati (an East Indian dialect).